The hero of James Lee Burke's recent best-seller Rain Gods, cousin to lawman Billy Bob Holland and a genuine product of the South, both old and new, Hackberry Holland makes his first appearance in this early gem from "America's best novelist" (The Denver Post).
Against the backdrop of growing civil rights turmoil in a sultry border town, the hard-drinking ex-POW attorney yields to the myriad urgings of his wife, his brother, and his so-called friends to make a bid for a congressional seat - and finds himself embroiled in the seamy world of Texas powerbrokers. And when Hack attempts to overturn an old army buddy's conviction, and crosses paths with a beautiful union organizer who speaks to his heart in a way no one else has, he finds both a new love and a new purpose as he breaks free from the shackles of wealth and expectation to bring justice to the underserved.
©2010 James Lee Burke (P)2010 Simon & Schuster
The Publisher's summary reads like a romance novel when this is is classic James Lee Burke: Intellent story telling based on deep introspection and human nature. Dark poetry in hot, steamy Texas in the time when "Negro" was considered polite language and Hispanics were ignored. A preclude to Rain Gods, it explains many character mysteries and painful memories. Will Patton, the narrator, layers language with meaning and tonality like silk over callouses.
This is another perfect conjoining of Burke and Patton, vivid in intensity and clarity. The audio-book was made for them. The voices are all there with nothing held back. The language is rough and necessary giving the listener the reality demanded by the characters. Burke and Patton never hold back; they flood our senses to overload making it up to us as the audience to rise to the occasion. Never look for an apology from these two. If you love what you hear, there is much more Burke / Patton out there. Hosanna, life is good.
Really enjoyed it. Took a little while to get the "context" of the era story takes place, but it takes nothing from the story. If you like the Patton/ Burke coop you'll love it (particularly if you liked "Rain Gods").
I love Burke, but I don't think this is quite a good as the others I have listened to. It starts out a little slowly, but then speeds up and has a great ending. Will Patton is terrific as always.
Ok, I'm a sucker this author's rendering of Texas border country and its characters. Burke brings an unapologetic empathy to his stories that is rare in this genre. His novels are full of humanity at its worst and best, and somehow he never lets us slide into the dull hum of desensitized overload that can muffle the mind. I love the voice of Patton for these books, a pitch perfect reader for the dignity and imperfection of Holland and his fellows.
I love James Lee Burke - but I must say this was probably my least favorite book. His second book with this charater is better, and you don't need to read this one to enjoy the next. Skip it -
The title of this review expresses my ambivalence between the quality of the writing and story telling, and my intense dislike of the main character. The four star rating is largely homage to Burke's writing, and his bringing to life the farm worker's struggle for fair treatment. It's also in appreciation of the light he casts on the type of people who succeed in politics, and why.
There are scenes between Hack and Veresa that are drawn with a surgeon's scalpel, and you can almost feel the blood oozing out of your own pores. Similarly, Hack's brother's complaints have the ring of truth and I longed for him to throw Hack out on his drunk butt.
Hack's political career is drawn from the headlines. The lurid details of his drunken escapades can be found in the real reports of politicians' misdeeds, sorry to say.
Hackberry Holland is an abhorrent character. He's a selfish, self-absorbed, egotistical, alcoholic who blames all of his problems on other people. In many ways, he's stereotyped, as are the women with whom he interacts.
He falls into the farm workers struggle not out of principle, but in an alcoholic binge. I would have had more respect for him had he had some principle about it.
Yes, he was a POW in a Chinese camp and his treatment there defies comprehension. Burke describes it extensively, and in great detail. Too much is given over to this, so much so that it felt like mere sensationalism, a disappointment from a writer of Burke's ability.
Will Patton does his usual excellent job narrating the book.
Although overall I enjoyed the book, I'm not sure I'll read any more books featuring Hackberry Holland.
I am a huge fan of James Lee Burke but I could not figure out what this book was about. Was it about Hollands father? Burke continued to reference Hollands father and John Wesley Hardin. This added nothing to the book. Was it about Holland's Korean war experience? Again he spends quite a bit of time recounting this experience with only little relevance at the end of the book.
It is hard to become interested in the welfare of Holland. He has no charisma and you really do not care what happens to him. Burke should retire this uninteresting character. As usual, Will Patton was wonderful as the narrator. I will not waste my time with another book with Holland as the character.
Say something about yourself!
I listened to this because it was written by James Lee Burke. It's a decent listen yet in no way compares to others by Burke. Does give the intro into Hackberry. Again, I only stuck with it because I'm a serious Burke fan! Otherwise, it gave me a hangover without having to take a drink!
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